NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous, winner of the 2012 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, is leading the charge to urge the Justice Department to open a federal civil rights case against George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. In an interview with Democracy Now!, Jealous says the NAACP would like to see criminal charges brought against Zimmerman under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
But while the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund believes there is enough evidence to file additional charges, Justice Department officials said on Tuesday that it's unlikely they will do so, saying it it would be difficult to prove racial bias.
"The reality is, here, again, we have a young man whose parents will never even hear him breathe again," Jealous told Democracy Now!. "We have a boy, really, who was 17, who did nothing wrong, who was targeted by somebody who, frankly, appeared to be fixated on young men of color."
A final decision is yet to be made, though, and Jealous and the NAACP are continuing to push for civil rights charges. On Tuesday, Jealous tweeted that the NAACP's petition to open a federal case had been signed by over a million people.
"What’s most important is that George Zimmerman needs to be brought to justice, and the justice system needs to move forward," said Jealous.